Why Are Farmers Afraid of Michael Pollan?

Author Michael Pollan is no stranger to controversy. He has broadened
the discussion of what we eat, where and how it is grown, big vs.
small, organic farming vs. conventional. When he speaks some in the
audience will love him, some will not.

Advocates of large scale agriculture see Pollan as the enemy, they
believe he stands against everything they see as the future of
agriculture. Pollen however is not an absolutist, his basic premise is
that people need to think more about their food; where it was grown,
how it was grown, was the farmer paid fairly, is it good for you?

Pollan wants people to think about cooking, about food freshness and
flavor, about the dinner table as more than a "filling station".

Knowing your food is not a radical concept, and it should not be a
frightening concept. Knowledge is power, the more we know, the better
choices we can make.

Farmers should have nothing to hide, and those most upset with Pollan's
theories on eating, tout their large scale farming methods as being
models of efficiency, environmental protection, animal welfare and safe

Still, they fear his thoughts being mainstream. Granted, Pollan is not
a farmer, and does not know all the intricacies of farming; he does not
claim to. However, those who denounce him do not know the intricacies
of the local, regional and organic farming he advocates.

So, why are they afraid of what he has to say? Pollen admits there is
no one right way to farm, there is no one system that will work for all
farmers. He maintains that all farmers need to make a living yet be
mindful of how they farm, how they raise their animals and how they
maintain the environment. If Pollan has an argument with agriculture,
it is not with farmers, it is with agribusiness.

Author Wendell Berry notes that "Agribusiness is immensely more
profitable than agriculture". Any farmer knows that the corporate
owners of seed, chemicals, fertilizer and the buyers of grain,
livestock and milk always seem to make a profit; farmers do not.

Over the past 60 years farmers have seen competition in the market
place steadily disappear as corporate mergers concentrated all aspects
of agriculture into the hands of a few multinational corporations.

Their profit comes at the expense of the farmer, the farm worker, consumer safety and the environment.

While farmers defend themselves against what they see as an attack by
Pollan, they are really defending agribusiness. When they say they love
their Roundup Ready corn, the hormones and the chemicals they are
promoting the corporations that always make a profit whether the
farmers win or lose.

When farmers disparage small-scale ecological agriculture because it
"will never feed the world" they conveniently forget that conventional
agriculture has not fed the world either, despite 60 years of promises
to do so. They also ignore the findings of IAASTD  that indicate the old paradigm of industrial agriculture is a thing of the past.

The industrial model sources food from the world, pits farmer against
farmer in a race to the bottom. Globalized commodities converted into
processed nutritionally empty foods, make corporations rich, Americans
obese, and developing countries destitute .

Pollan just wants farmers and consumers to think. Agribusiness is rich
and persuasive, they own both ends of the market place and they want to
keep it that way. When people think about what they eat and what they
grow, chances are, eventually, they will make the right choice.

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